Gulang Yu is a small island (less than a square mile) just off Xiamen island which is renowned for its beaches and architecture and also for having no vehicles/bicycles on the island. Everyone who’d been to Xiamen told us that this was the place to go, so we headed over on our first day after a loooong walk to the seafront (our hotel was as inland as it’s possible to get in Xiamen) and bought an 18rmb return ferry ticket from the terminal close to the end of Zhongshan walking street (basically Nanjing Dong Lu).
Unfortunately the ferry doesn’t go straight across the narrow band of sea to the island (a few hundred metres) they take a 40 minute tour of the island. This would all have been very nice if there hadn’t been a a continuous commentary over the tannoy system by a particularly excitable crew member at white noise volumes instructing us to hire binoculars from them to see the beautiful scenery of the island barely visible through the mist just off the port side. This continued unabated for pretty much the whole trip and had us pretty much finished before we’d even arrived at Gulang Yu..
Anyway, finally we did arrive and we quickly jumped off the boat and made our way around the island with the crowds. I took a few photos in the port area:
Just about the first thing we saw after getting off the ferry was a McDonalds, then a KFC, even a Dairy Queen, all surrounded by hordes of megaphone-led baseball cap tour groups, this clearly wasn’t the idyllic peaceful paradise we’d been expecting..
We followed the hordes of tourists through the winding streets across the island, stopping to have a look in the odd shop here and there (mostly tat). We stopped off at Pearl World, which had been recommended by Tina and bought H some nice dangly black pearly earrings (which she promptly left in the hotel bathroom when we checked out..). Fighting our way through tour groups got pretty tiring though and we stopped off for lunch somewhere in the middle of the island and spent a relaxing hour eating some pretty fine seafood
After making it to the opposite side of the island and seeing the crowded beach we pretty much gave up on the spot and jumped into one of the golf buggies to take us back to the ferry terminal. This took a tour back through some of the back streets which actually looked a lot more interesting than the bit we’d walked through and made us wish we’d spent more time off the main tourist route, not interesting enough for us to actually take a walk back that way though..
So, we headed back, tired and disappointed to Xiamen…